Restoring the Kingship of Christ in Great Britain

Clergy and laity together for Christ the King

 By Father Joseph, Capuchin of Morgon, France.

Chaplain of Civitas International 

 

 

Our intention is not to demonstrate why the Catholic Church rejects both the submission of the state to the Church and the reverse situation, that is, the submission of the Church to the state. We also consider it a given that the regime of separation between the Church and the state is, in reality, just a masked version of the Church’s submission to the state.

We address our readers, believing them to be well convinced of the doctrine of the Church’s indirect power over the state. The Church remains within its sphere, does not directly act on temporal matters but possesses pre-eminence over the state for two primary reasons: the superiority of its mission and purpose and the responsibility to ensure that rulers do not enact laws contrary to divine laws or the spiritual interests of the faithful. If it intervenes outside of these cases, it exceeds its powers, it oversteps its rights. If things are well-defined and accepted as such by the clergy and the laity, are there still difficulties to resolve? In reality, there are no theoretical problems. However, it is useful to defuse some prejudices in practice that can still harm the good understanding between clergy and laity.

We would like to propose three reflections more specifically. The first will show how the misinterpretation of the original meaning of the word “laity” has caused confusion in people’s minds about the relationship between the Church and the state, clergy, and laity. The second will acknowledge that certain encroachments by the clergy have fostered fear and mistrust among the laity. The third will discuss the role of chaplains in a political movement.

 

I. “Laity”: On the Misfortune of this Word

In Canon 107 of the Code of Canon Law, it defines that “by divine institution, the clergy are distinct from the laity.” Indeed, it was Our Lord Jesus Christ who wanted the body of the Church to be divided into two classes of members. One consists of all those entrusted with the ultimate purpose of the Church – that is, the sanctification of souls – and has ecclesiastical powers for this purpose: these are the clergy. The other includes the faithful who, through baptism, become subjects of rights and duties without participating in ecclesiastical power.

As we can see, the notion of “laity” is purely ecclesiastical in origin and serves to designate an essential, considerable, and indispensable part of the Christian society. But, as rightly denounced by Father Joseph Lémann, “Our adversaries seized the language before seizing our schools, hospitals, courthouses, and institutions. They established a perfidious opposition against certain words, terms, and ideas that had hitherto been used and had lived in the most fraternal harmony. They divided and opposed them to each other (…) It took them thirty years, forty years to establish this opposition in ideas and words: lay on one side, clerical on the other (…) The invasion had begun in words and ideas; it ended in institutions. It was logical.”

Although we are more or less aware of the linguistic feat by which the apostate sect took hold of this concept and perverted it so well that it became one of their most effective terms, it is almost impossible for us not to be corroded by its dialectic. The affirmation of the very real rights and duties of the laity is expressed today very difficultly without a temptation to distrust the ecclesiastical hierarchy, as if there were a struggle for influence and power. The class struggle has entered there.

It is up to us not to be fooled by this linguistic chaff, to shake off our sterilising prejudices, and to realise how the harmonious restoration of relations between clergy and laity constitutes a great advantage for the restoration of the Christian city.

 

II. Regarding Encroachments on the Rights of Either Party

In denouncing the marxisation of language, we obviously do not mean that the semantic scandal we have just described is the cause of all misunderstandings between clergy and laity. We must also acknowledge that both ancient and recent history have their share of abuses and encroachments, both in a theocratic and regalian sense. And we simply have to admit that, in the mixed domain where both powers legitimately have a say, agreement is not always easy.

In the history of the most staunchly Catholic French, we must acknowledge the upheaval caused in minds by questionable papal interventions such as the Ralliement or the condemnation of Action Française. We must also mention the hostility of French bishops, with the exception of Bishop Marcel Lefebvre, towards the Catholic City of Jean Ousset, and finally, the shameful abandonment of the Church’s social doctrine at the Second Vatican Council.

We must understand that French Catholics, firmly attached to the Church, have been burned more than once by clerical interventionism or abandonment. If they have the temptation to want to follow their political path independently of any clerical influence, we must dissuade them from it as an excessive and detrimental reaction to both the Church and the nation.

If it is true that they have suffered more than once from clerical interventionism or abandonment, let them not abandon this narrow path where Saint Remi gives a hand to Clovis, Suger to Louis VI and Louis VII, Richelieu to Louis XIII, Pius IX to Veuillot or Garcia Moreno, Cardinal de Cabrières, Father Pascal, Dom Besse to Maurras, Bishop Marcel Lefebvre to Jean Ousset…

As far back as we look, we will see that the political works that have ploughed a fruitful furrow for the reign of Jesus Christ require the existence of these harmonious duos. It is up to us to be inspired by them!

 

III. The Chaplaincy of a Political Movement

Day in honour of Saint Joan of Arc, including a march in Paris, 2022

The duty of the clergy is to ensure that the laity conform their language and political action to the Church’s social doctrine. But, to paraphrase Saint Paul, how will the laity apply this doctrine if they do not know it? And how will they know it if no one teaches it to them? And who will teach it to them if the priests who are tasked with transmitting these truths keep them to themselves?

This is why it is as natural to hear Pope Pius X declare to his cardinals at his first Consistory that he will be involved in politics as it is to see illustrious theologians succeed one another on the Syllabus lectern created by the Institute of Action Française; as logical as “That He may reign” being prefaced by Bishop Lefebvre, as Civitas asking for the cooperation of priests in the training of its members. To be surprised by this is to misunderstand the truth that behind every political idea, there is a theology.

However, the misery of the times means that theology is hardly more known than by the priests themselves. And even then… So it is necessary to call on them to ensure and contribute to the formation of activists.

We not only want to talk about their political instruction, but we are also deeply convinced that the fruitfulness of Civitas also relies on the Christian, spiritual, and moral quality of its activists. Assuring the chaplaincy of a political movement is also about having the concern to contribute to the creation of a true elite of fervent Catholics whose action is truly the fruit of their union with God.

From Civitas, we must therefore say what St Pope Pius X wrote in his Encyclical Letter Il Fermo Proposito: “For such works, given their nature, must move with the freedom that reasonably belongs to them, since responsibility for their action falls primarily on themselves, especially in temporal and economic affairs, as well as in those of public life, administrative or political, all matters outside the purely spiritual ministry. But since Catholics always bear the banner of Christ, they thereby bear the banner of the Church, and it is therefore reasonable that they receive it from the hands of the Church, that the Church ensures that its honour is always untarnished, and that Catholics submit to the action of this maternal vigilance as obedient and affectionate sons.”

It is evident that the chaplaincy of a political movement, in the times we live in, entails a particularly delicate position. Several of the loftiest reasons mark the providential aspect of the chaplaincy exercised for the benefit of Civitas. The first is to particularly foster the magnificent current of conversion that so often arises from a preliminary political awakening. The second is to restore confidence to laity often wounded by the distance of the clergy. The third is to endorse the necessity of openly waging a political struggle aimed at the restoration of the Catholic order. And the fourth is, on the contrary, to have almost no role as an endorsement for party opinions, as Civitas defines itself exclusively by its fight for the reign of Christ the King.

 

(Civitas magazine No 81)